August 26, 2019 • Travel Ideas
Panama is the bridge between continents and the narrow division between two oceans, a unique position that has bestowed it with hidden treasures and enormous biodiversity.
A narrow isthmus between the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea and home to more than 30 marine protected areas, Panama offers the perfect setting to explore a wide range of unique marine environments on your vacation. On our 8-day Panama snorkeling trip, we visit three beautiful marine protected areas on both coasts: Coíba National Park and Gulf of Chiriquí National Marine Park in the Pacific, and Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park (Bocas del Toro area) in the Caribbean.
Coíba National Park’s coral reefs are home to hundreds of species of fishes. ©Laszlo Ilyes [CC by 2.0]
White-tip reef sharks are just one of the many shark species found in Coíba National Park and Gulf of Chiriquí National Park.
Located just north of Coíba National Park, Gulf of Chiriquí National Marine Park also hosts vibrant coral reefs that are home to sea turtles, manta rays, reef sharks, and many species of reef fishes. ©Laszlo Ilyes [CC by 2.0]
In Boca Chica, we visit a lush mangrove ecosystem and look for birds in the internationally recognized Important Bird Area, David Mangroves. ©Falco Ermert [CC by 2.0]
Sheltered areas on the south sides of the islands offer calm waters with varied coral reefs to explore, and we will visit idyllic snorkeling sites at Crawl Cay and Cayos Zapatillas.
A short trip across Panama’s interior brings you to the shores of the Caribbean Sea, where we explore Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park. This protected area was created in 1988 in the famed Bocas del Toro Archipelago, with the goal to protect and conserve marine and terrestrial wildlife and habitats. With some of the best snorkeling in the region, Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park boasts incredible species diversity of sponges, reef fish, four species of sea turtle, and nearly eighty different coral species.
There will be plenty of opportunities for snorkeling, wildlife observation, and taking in the incredible surroundings throughout our engaging exploration of Panama’s Pacific and Caribbean marine ecosystems!
These three wonderful parks are the focus of our 9-day Panama: Snorkeling Marine Parks of the Pacific and Caribbean expedition, and we also visit the rarely-visited Isla Uvas and Islas Secas Archipelago as well as the Panama Canal. Grab your mask, fins, and snorkel and join us on our next expedition!